Your first time in a boarding stable, you might feel like you’ve suddenly been transported to a different country. There are so many words flying around that you’ve never heard before, and no one likes to feel like they’re the only person not “in the know.” Lucky for you, we’ve put together this basic guide of horse terminology. Read through it, and you won’t feel so out of place next time you head to the stables and someone starts talking about how many hands their Yearling is.
Terms Referring to Horses
The following terms are all referring to horses of different sexes, sizes, or life stages, making it easy to distinguish between different types of horses.
Ponies are miniature horses that are no taller than 14.2 hands when fully grown.
A mare is any adult female horse that’s three years or older.
Any adult male horse three years or older that’s not castrated is a stallion.
A gelding is any male that’s three years or older that has been castrated.
Foals are newborn horses that haven’t been weaned.
Any male horse under three years of age.
Any female horse under three years of age.
Any colt or filly that’s between 6 and 12 months of age.
Any horse between one and two years old.
Terms About Horses
In this section, all the terms will be used to describe something about a horse, such as its height or a component of its health.
Horses’ heights are measured in hands. A hand is equal to four inches.
A horse’s points are its mane, lower legs, ear tips, and tail. This term is used when describing the horse’s color.
A horse is lame when it has an injury that affects its health or performance.
Sound horses are healthy animals that are free from injuries that affect their health or performance.
Gait refers to the four different speeds a horse can travel. The four speeds are walk, trot, canter, and gallop.
This is a term about the condition of a horse’s body. Horses with good conformation are hardier and have a higher chance of remaining healthy and sound.
Not all horse-related terms specifically discuss horses or their traits. The following terms are referring to things that are simply related to horses in some way.
Any equipment used with a horse such as a bridle or saddle is called tack.
Gradually separating a foal from its mother is a process known as weaning.
The lunge line is a long rein that’s usually about 20-40 feet in length meant for lunging a horse.
Done on a lunge line, lunging is a manner of exercising a horse entailing the horse circling the trainer who’s holding the other end of the lunge line.
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